About half of the trunk was cut from a local pollard willow, a piece that was locally knows as "The Scream" because it resembles the famous painting by Edvard Munch. It had become a local attraction in the natural reserve south-west of Ghent.
"This is a huge loss. It's a symbol that has vanished", Magda Polfliet who works for the Bourgoyen told the VRT's local radio station Radio 2 Oost-Vlaanderen. "It was a lovely piece of art. Yes, I would also like to have it in my living room. But out of respect for nature and for this lovely Ghent gem it is of course outrageous to take this away."
Polfliet says that when schools visit the natural area, scores of children were gazing at the work. ""Waw, this is nature screaming to have more nature", it was said then."
A campaign has been launched to try to find the work back. Posters are hanging in various places. (top picture; photo below: Magda Polfliet and Bart De Munck at the maimed tree)